OxyContin is an extremely potent painkiller classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance with a high abuse potential. It’s aimed to provide pain relief to patients who suffer from moderate to severe pain when all other medications seem to fail.
Does OxyContin have any unwanted effects you should be aware of? Could prolonged use be potentially risky for some patients? While OxyContin is an effective drug when it comes to treating pain on the long run, it may produce unwanted adverse effects in the brain and body of people who use it. In this article we review what this medication can do, and invite your questions and comments at the end.
OxyContin effects on the body
OxyContin can affect the body in a variety of ways. While it’s primary use is relieving pain, it is also often abused for its euphoric effect. However, the drug can also have some quite uncomfortable side effects. The most common side effects of OxyContin use include:
Long-term oxycodone users can develop a tolerance and become immune to its effects. Tolerance to OxyContin may be an issue for those who seek pain relief as they would need ever increasing doses of OxyContin to be able to get the same effects as in the beginning of therapy.
OxyContin effects on the brain
OxyContin is active in the brain.
How does Oxycontin work? It’s component HCl which is an opioid agonist acts by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, the spinal cord and the gastrointestinal tract and by doing so it blocks the transmission of pain messages to the brain. It also directly acts on the brain stem’s respiratory and cough centers which may induce respiratory depression and coughing.
OxyContin effects on the heart
When a person takes more than the medically recommended dose, it is possible to overdose on OxyContin. Possible unwanted outcomes of OD include endocarditis and valvular heart injury.
Another way OxyContin affects the heart is during withdrawal when it increases the heart rate. Tapering doses is always preferred to abrupt stopping since the latter could increase the risk of a heart attack.
OxyContin effects on the liver
Liver problems may worsen with the presence of OxyContin. The medication may even damage the organ which is why any liver-related problems should be carefully considered when starting an OxyContin therapy.
OxyContin effects on the lungs
OxyContin is not recommended for people suffering from asthma or any lung related problems because the drug can cause shortness of breath and seriously depress breathing which could lead to a life-threatening situation.
OxyContin effects on personality and behaviour
OxyContin addicts share a common addictive pattern which is characterized by uncontrollable use of OxyContin despite knowledge of possible harm. Changes in normal behavior commonly seen in OxyContin addicts include:
- becoming distant and secretive
- experiencing mood swings
- loss of interest in activities and people that used to matter
OxyContin effects on blood pressure
As is the case with other opioids, OxyContin can also lower the blood pressure and provoke a condition known as hypotension. That is why a slightly higher dose could be extremely dangerous for people whose ability to maintain normal blood pressure has already been compromised.
Increased blood pressure, on the other hand, may occur if OxyContin is abruptly stopped and this is a common withdrawal symptom and another potential risk of OxyContin use.
OxyContin effects on the skin
Some of the common adverse effects of OxyContin use include dry skin and itching, exfoliative dermatitis and urticaria which may decrease with continued use. Cold and clammy skin on the other hand could be signs of overdose on OxyContin.
OxyContin effects on sperm
Studies suggest that reduced sperm motility is a common pathology seen in opiate drug addicts, which is possibly a result of the opioid system’s involvement in the control of sperm movement. As a result, long term OxyContin users could experience reduced sperm motility.
OxyContin effects on pregnancy
OxyContin may not be the right drug for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant as there is a potential risk of provoking complications and harming the baby. The very fact that there are no adequate studies in pregnant women suggests that the drug should be avoided unless the potential benefit of its use during pregnancy significantly outweighs potential risks.
OxyContin effects on fetus
According to studies, regular use of OxyContin could harm the fetus, and a baby may showcase symptoms of withdrawal upon birth. Withdrawal effects seen in babies include:
- excessive crying
- fast breathing
- …and even breathing problems
OxyContin effects on breast milk
OxyContin is not recommended for lactating mothers as traces of it are very likely to be found in the breast milk. This could affect the nursing baby by causing drowsiness and difficulty breathing.
OxyContin effects on menstrual cycles
Case reports describe irregularities of the menstrual cycle shortly after starting OxyContin therapy. This possible side effect could provoke fertility issues.
OxyContin effects on nervous system
There are a number of nervous system disorders that could occur due to OxyContin use. Commonly seen ones include:
- hyperkinesia (hyperactivity and inability to concentrate)
- hypertonia (abnormal increase in muscle tension)
- hypesthesia (a diminished capacity for physical sensation)
- paresthesia (tingling or pricking sensation aka “pins and needles”)
- speech disorder
- taste perversion
OxyContin effects in dopamine
As other opiods, OxyContin increase activity in the brain reward pathway. In fact, OxyContin increases the dopamine levels more effectively and for a longer period of time compared to natural rewards. This is why the drug is known to have a high abuse potential.
OxyContin effects on the nose, ears, and throat
Intranasal discomfort and stuffiness are possible side effects of OxyContin use, while swollen throat could occur as a result of allergic reaction which requires urgent medical assistance.
OxyContin effects on eyes and pupils
Sunken eyes and constricted pupils are common sign of OxyContin withdrawal while red eyes could manifest a histamine release.
OxyContin effects questions
Do you stil have questions about the effects of OxyContin? Please, let us know in the comment section below and we will try to provide you with a personal and prompt response.
Reference sources: FDA: Medication Guide OXYCONTIN®
NCBI: Pharmacokinetics, tolerability, and safety of intranasal administration of reformulated OxyContin(®) tablets compared with original OxyContin (®) tablets in healthy adults
U.S. Department of Justice: What is OxyContin?
U.S. Department of Justice: OXYCONTIN – oxycodone hydrochloride tablet
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